Condo Living Overview

9/3/13 Condo alternative house for sale in Whitefish Bay

Monday, January 20th, 2014

One of a kind, architect builder’s house has rich character and good bones and makes an excellent condo alternative. This property features an adult floor plan with a full master suite occupying an entire floor.

Electric fireplace in living room

Electric fireplace in living room

The cathedral ceiling, with its exposed wood beams, states that this is no ordinary cookie-cutter house. Details abound – spindle trims, turned staircase, tall picture window, wide sills, imposing fireplace, textured walls, built-ins, archways, and tiled hearth & foyer. Hardwood floors, custom window treatments, and ceiling fans continue throughout the house.

A formal dining room boasts a corner custom china cupboard and a traditional swing door to kitchen. Bright kitchen has custom cabinets and a breakfast bar. Appliances are included.

Upper, spacious master bedroom suite offers his and hers sides walk-in-closet.

Master bedroom has wall length walk-in-closet

Master bedroom has wall length walk-in-closet

The adjoining master bathroom area offers a custom, ceramic European shower stall with bench seat and shelf. Ceramic tile repeats on the floor, in vanity, and in separate W/C room, with built-in cupboards. Additional attic storage area access.

Custom ceramic walk-in shower

Custom ceramic walk-in shower

There are two bedrooms on the main floor with a separate, full bathroom between them.

The clean and dry, finished lower level gives open and useable space, including a recreation room, a laundry area complete with washer/dryer, shelving, an 8 x 2 cedar closet with bi-fold doors, storage nooks, plus there is an additional 21 x 12, well-lit workroom.

Custom brick back yard patio

Custom brick back yard patio

A walkway leads from the kitchen to a 250 sq.ft. custom brick patio and the back yard, with its established perennial garden, and on to the detached 2 car GA.

Asking price is $265,000.

For a private showing, please call Paul. 414-807-7599.

Milwaukee Suburbs

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Although the hub of condo renovation and new construction is downtown, with towers and million dollar units exclusive to that area, there are condominium developments all around the 4 county area.

Futher out, the same dollars typically buy more space per unit than downtown, even in the country club type condos in Mequon and beyond. There are more single stories, four to eight family buildings, ranch side-by-sides and townhomes.

Examples of Condo Styles Downtown

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Chicago Style walk-ups
Lyon Street

Waterfront lofts
Riverfront Lofts

Warehouse conversions
Reservoir Lofts

New Urban townhomes

Row townhouses
River Houses

Retail conversions
Brewery Lofts

1522 on the Lake

Victorian conversions
Pleasant Street

Apartment conversions

Examples of Suburban Condo Styles

Freestanding villa
Highlands of Ville du Parc
Single story side by side ranch
Mequon Square
Apartment style two story
Village Estates
8 Family,  over/under stacked ranch
Beechnut Woods
Classic townhouse Cherrywood

Residential Condominium Concepts

Friday, August 7th, 2009

In general terms, residential Condominiums take what might have been an apartment, townhouse or house, and permits individual sales of the separate dwelling Units. All of the dwelling unit owners own the common areas together and collectively pay for the upkeep and the common expenses. A Condominium, however, is not like living in an apartment because the owner is usually responsible for the maintenance and repair of everything within the Unit – the property manager does not take care of it, as would be the case with a tenant. To understand Condominium ownership, an understanding of certain key concepts is needed.


The declaration is a written document that creates a Condominium from one or more parcels of real estate. In the Declaration, the owner declares his or her property to now be a Condominium. The Declaration divides the property into several smaller parcels: Units, which are individually owned, and the Common Elements, which are owned in common by all of the Unit owners together. The Declaration sets out what percentage of ownership interest in the Common Elements is assigned to each Unit, and the number of votes that the owner of each Unit has in the Association.


The Bylaws give the rules for the governance of the Condominium and the operation of the Association. The Bylaws may include restrictions on the use and maintenance of the Units and the Common Elements.


The Declarant is the builder or developer who declares his or her property to be a Condominium by recording the Declaration and plat maps. The Declarant may reserve a period of “Declarant Control” that gives the Declarant time to finish construction of the Condominium project and/or to sell the Units. During this period, the Declarant exercises the powers and responsibilities of the Association through its exclusive right to appoint the directors to the Association board. As the Units are sold to purchasers, elections are held at different intervals and the Unit owners (other than the Declarant) elect an increasing number of the directors. Declarant control lasts up to ten years in expandable Condominiums and up to three years in other Condominiums.


A Unit is the part of the Condominium that is privately owned and used by the Unit owner. A Unit owner has exclusive ownership and possession of his or her Unit. The statutes define Unit in terms of cubicles of air, enclosed spaces located on one or more floors, and rooms. A Unit may also include structural parts of a building (walls, wood frame) or a Unit may be the whole building, a building plus the surrounding land, or just land (similar to a lot). Units may also include separate areas that are some distance apart. For example, a Unit may include a dwelling plus a storage area, patio, or parking space.

A Unit is defined by its boundaries. The Unit owner owns everything within the Unit boundaries. The boundaries of each Unit are defined in the Declaration, while the Condominium plat shows the general location of each Unit in the Condominium. The Declaration may describe the perimeter walls, sometimes known as the “perimetric boundaries”, the upper boundaries and the lower boundaries. Generally, everything within these boundaries will be part of the Unit and everything outside of these boundaries is part of the Common Elements. If the boundaries are decorated surfaces  (paint, wallpaper, carpet ) then all of the structural and internal components of the walls are Common Elements. If the outer boundaries are the ‘studs’ or the framing, then the Unit includes the drywall and anything attached to the studs.
Unit boundaries may impact the Unit owner’s maintenance responsibilities, ability to make improvements or alterations, and insurance liability. Generally, Unit owners are responsible for all repairs and maintenance within the Unit and should obtain insurance coverage for everything included in the Unit. Unit boundaries vary from one Condominium to another.

Common Elements

Common Elements means everything else in the Condominium that is not a Unit. In a typical residential Condominium, the Common Elements may include the land, the exterior and common areas of buildings (entranceway, halls, elevator, meeting room, etc.), landscaping, roads, any outside parking areas, outdoor lighting, any recreational facilities (swimming pool, tennis courts, clubhouse, etc.) and all other common areas and amenities.

The Common Elements are owned collectively by all of the Unit owners. Each unit is assigned a percentage ownership interest in the Common Elements. These Percentage Interests are established in the Condominium Declaration. For example, in a Condominium with 100 Units, each Unit may be allocated an undivided one percent interest in the Common Elements. Thus, the owner of a Unit would own a one percent share in the tennis courts, road, parking lot, etc.

A Unit, together with its Percentage Interest in the Common Elements, is considered to be real estate. Basically, the Unit is owned outright, and the Common Elements are owned together with all of the other Units owners.

Limited Common Elements

The Limited Common Elements are Common Elements that are identified in the Declaration or plat as reserved for the exclusive use of less than all of the Unit owners. Typically, a Limited Common Element will be reserved for the use of just one Unit. Basically, you don’t own it individually, but you are the only one who may use it. This exclusive use, however, may be subject to restrictions stated in the Declaration, Bylaws or Condominium rules and regulations. Limited Common Elements may include features like a storage area, patio, balcony, garage parking space, or a boat slip.

One advantage to having a storage locker or a parking space as a Limited Common Element is that the Unit Owner may be permitted in the Condominium documents to transfer Limited Common Elements by deed to other Unit owners. Thus, Unit owners may swap garage spaces or sell unwanted parking space. The other primary advantage relates to maintenance. If a parking space is a Limited Common Element, it may be more likely that some of the maintenance responsibilities will belong to the Association rather than to the individual Unit owner. Common Elements and Limited Common Elements are owned by all Unit owners collectively and are subject to more group control and restriction.

Percentage Interests

Every Unit owner shares in the percentage of the Common Elements with the other owners. Each Unit is allotted a portion of this ownership interest called the Percentage Interests. The Percentage Interests are stated in the Declaration and come automatically with the ownership of a Unit. The Percentage Interests often determine the share of the common expenses that the Unit owner must pay for the repair and maintenance of the Common Elements and for the operation of the Association. Percentage Interests may be an equal percentage for all Units, in proportion to the square footage of the Units, based upon the location or value of the Units, or based upon some other formula stated in the Declaration.


The Association is the entity that the Unit owners use to act together as a group to manage and maintain the Condominium property and finances. The group will be either a nonstock, nonprofit corporation or an unincorporated Association. Every Unit owner is automatically a member of the association and votes for the Association directors who, on behalf of the Association, manage and maintain the Common Elements, adopt budgets and set the amount of the fees or assessments paid by the Unit owners for the Associations common expenses. The Association directors are responsible for the maintenance of the Condominium property, including lawn and garden care, snow removal, painting, roofs, and amenities such as swimming pools and tennis courts. They are responsible for collecting assessment fees, maintaining books and records, overseeing reserve funds, preparing financial reports, and filing tax returns. The board of directors is responsible for enforcing the rules and providing disclosure materials for Unit sales.Some or all of these functions may be delegated to a Condominium manager or other professionals such as accountants.

Assessment Fees

The Association sets a budget for all of the Condominium expenses and divides those expenses among the Unit owners. These fees are called “common assessments” or “condo maintenance fees” and typically are paid monthly. The Association may also create reserves for future maintenance and repairs. In addition, the Association may also charge the Unit owners with “special assessments”. Special assessments tend to be for a single amount and have a specified due date. For instance, the Association may have each Unit owner pay a special assessment to help pay for major repairs when the Association’s Reserve Funds are inadequate or when the cost was not anticipated in the budget.

Reserve Funds

A Condominium may systematically build a Reserve Fund to pay for future repair projects such as replacing the roof or siding. A Condominium Association may require a large, up-front contribution to these reserves by each initial Unit buyer and/or may allocate a portion of each monthly Assessment Fee to reserves. The accumulation of Reserve Funds hopefully will save the Unit owners from having to pay large, unexpected special Assessment Fees in the future. For example, if a Special Assessment is needed to replace all of the roofs in the Condominium and there are no Reserve Funds accumulated for this purpose, the Association will either have to borrow money and incur an interest expense or impose a large, special Assessment Fee against the Units. Under Wisconsin law, every Condominium is not legally required to establish Reserve Funds.

Statutory Reserve Account

A Statutory Reserve Account is established under Wis. Stat. # 703.163 for the repair and replacement of Common Elements in a residential Condominium (optional for a small Condominium with less than 13 units or a mixed-use Condominium with residential and non-residential units). In a new Condominium, the Declarant initially decides whether to have a  Statutory reserve Account, but after the Declarant Control period ends, the Association may opt-in or opt-out of a Statutory reserve Account with the written consent of a majority of the Unit votes. Existing Condominiums must establish a Statutory Reserve Account by May 1, 2006 unless the Association elects to not establish the account by the written consent of a majority of the Unit votes. Condominiums may have other Reserve Fund accounts used fro the repair and replacement of the Common Elements that are not Statutory Reserve Accounts and that operate apart from #703.165.

Developed and distributed by the Wisconsin Realtors Association (2004) Addendum to WB-4 Residential Condominium Listing Contract and WB-14 Residential Condominium Offer to Purchase Drafted by: Attorneys Debra Peterson Conrad & Lisa M. Pardon (Brennan, Steil & Basting, S.C.)

Condo Living

Friday, August 7th, 2009

My customers often ask me:

  • What exactly is a condominium?
  • For tax purposes, how does it compare to renting?
  • How does it differ from owning a single family home?

There are condominium developments zoned for many locales, in many price ranges and in a wide variety of building styles. A development may consist of an apartment-style high-rise, a row of two story townhouses, an area of ranch side-by-sides, converted warehouse lofts, or even free-standing villas, to name only a few types and sizes.

Buyers of either a condominium or a single family residence have similar choices regarding location, style, price, and amenities.

The condo buyer purchasing a single unit in a development owns, pays taxes on, and may sell 100% of everything within the walls of that unit. In a development having fifty units, for example, a buyer assumes a proportionate share, based on the relative size of the unit ( not necessarily a one-fiftieth share), of the responsibility for the common elements of the development including the land, the walls, roof, hallways, elevators and stairways in a shared building, and as well, any recreational facilities belonging to the development such as pools, courts, clubhouses, or courses.

Each unit owner automatically becomes a member of that condo association and agrees to abide by a set of rules, the by-laws, also called the condominium documents (condo docs.), contained in the Declaration of Condominium for the development, which specifies the site plan, the number of units, and the architectural drawings of the units.

Each condo member pays a monthly fee, determined by an elected board of association members, to share in the maintenance of the common elements, to provide common area insurance and to establish a reserve fund for future expense. The board may choose to manage the property itself or to hire a management company to do so.

Be aware that some general information available about condos may not apply in Wisconsin. Each state has statutes governing condominium law. In Wisconsin, these have recently been revised. Read more about Residential Condominium Laws.